WEEK THIRTIETH January 27, 2013
Received a request from the Bishop to provide him with copies of the materials I prepared for Brother Two’s Melchizedek Priesthood preparation and I had to confess to him that the materials came about in response to question Brother Two had asked and I would have to get with him to find out what he had received. So I called and made arrangements with Brother Two, wrote down the articles I had given him and that he had shared with the bishop during his interview and emailed copies to the Bishop. This moving forward not knowing beforehand the things you should do, can prove embarrassing. The bishop also shared his desire for me to teach the Temple Preparation class for his ward which I am delighted to do.
The other bishop we work with sent me a ward mission plan and asked for “candid feedback about our ideas.” Never quite sure how to respond to such a request but this bishop and I see to be on the same wavelength so that made it easier. After reviewing the material and spending a few days prayerfully considering it I sent him my feedback.
One of the things I have learned over the years is that the Lord is in simple plans, in fact the more complicated the plan the more likely the Lord is not a part of it. I remember a stake president of ours who once insisted that everything be produced on a single page, anything longer he just discarded. Upon review it seemed so much effort was required in the busyness I couldn’t see where any time left for actual missionary effort. When phrases such as “as much as possible” are used the less committed often take that as a license reduce their effort while the more committed break their backs, jeopardizing family relationships and work to fulfill their obligation. So I offered a few suggestion to streamline the effort and spread the workload more evenly. The bishop thanked me for the response coming to the conclusion that “we definitely need to consider focusing on what's most important and letting the Lord helps us through the process.” I later learned he had forward my comments to the stake president as well.
Had another very productive meeting with Brother Forty in his Melchizedek Priesthood preparation this week. Presented a copy of the Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, the single volume, Answers to Gospel Questions that Sister H had secured at a store in Las Vegas who responded “you and Jan are the strongest testimonies to me that the Mormon way is true. I really mean that with all my heart. Knowing your zeal for the Lord it actually makes sense to me all that you tell me.” Just maybe we are doing some good here!
This week at the request of a home teacher (how I like it when visits happen that way) with Brother Forty-One, a single fellow close to our ages. I knocked on the screen door. He came to the door but I couldn’t see him nor hear him because of a 100 plus decibel Chihuahua which he put into a kennel and opened the door after ascertaining why we were there. We told him who we were and that his home teacher had asked us to come by and get acquainted. He has a roommate whose children he says refer to him as Papi. He joined the church about thirty years ago and while a prospective elder was called, sustained, and ordained a high priest and set apart to serve on the High Council. He told us, “I haven’t been to church in twenty-five years but I’m not inactive. I just haven’t been to church. I still know the church is true.” We had a good acquainted visit and he was willing for us to come back again and said “when he is ready” he will notify us so we can go to church with him.
We learned this week that one of our grandsons has been selected to go to the US Olympic Wrestling training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado this summer. So the world still moves on without us—all is well.
We were invited along with the elders and sisters in the Lake Forest Ward to a dinner with the Six Family. The elders had texted me a message they were considering and wondered if I had some ideas which I shared with them. Following the dinner Elder Anderson announced that Elder Haddock would be sharing the spiritual message “this evening.” Which I did. It was nice having the young elder and sisters there, our first such experience.
Sent I letter I felt a strong impression to send to the 12 year old daughter of the Ward Mission Leader in Aliso Creek Ward who was with us at the temple for the baptisms for the dead the first time, and being baptized by her father. “Every time I am able to witness someone doing Temple work for their ancestors I find my heart swelling with joy. I count it a privilege to be there with you today. It’s a bond I am grateful to share with you. It rekindled such experience with our own children and grandchildren. Just think, what it will be like someday to be greeted by those ancestors on the other side of the veil. I suspect there will be lots of hugs and kisses as there was with your parents today. Doesn’t it make you want to do all you can to always be worthy to enter the Temple and perform sacred ordinances for those whose earlier work had a lot to do with making you who you are?” Sunday her parents said they felt this little note will do much for their daughter’s desire to stay worthy to participate in temple work.
Jan and I on P-day took a walk on the beach at Corona del Mar. A place I have always felt very comfortable, would enjoy living there. The cool breeze, the sand and pounding of the ocean was delightful. Used to love the days we did this in Encinitas, just walking and talking just the two of us. We met an elderly lady pushing a walker, then a bunch of kids and a couple of mothers came by, “Missionaries” they exclaimed. 15 kids and 4 parents drove down from Ogden today to go to the beach and to Disneyland tomorrow. Then met a lady on the beach, the daughter of the elderly lady we had met earlier. In all met 21 people on the beach, all of whom were LDS. What are the odds of that?
In the Savior’s sermon on the Bread of Life we read in John 6 that “no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” In essence, He who was speaking proclaims that he is the Son of God, removing all doubt as to His authenticity as the emissary of the Father, and the only name under heaven whereby men may be saved. How did many of his followers act following this proclamation? We read, “From that time many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him.” Why did they turn away and discontinue following Him? I suspect those who fell away saw inconsistencies and issues and, without even realizing it, began to see their reasoning or understanding being superior to God’s and since everything was not perfectly aligned or fully understandable they felt free to disbelieve even what the Spirit had communicated to them. Turning to the Twelve the Savior then said, “Will ye also go away?” Peter than answering for the Twelve and for the rest of us who choose to not cast away our confidence, says with straight forward conviction, “Lord to whom shall we go: thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:65-69).
It is that foundational testimony that fortifies us against any frailties seen in the Brethren, inconsistencies seen in history or prophetic pronouncements of our current time. The trust the Spirit conveys to those willing to listen and believe is that this being the church of which the Lord personally testifies as “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30) we can always comfortably follow the Brethren knowing that He who is in control is really in control, notwithstanding the frailties of men, and is interested personally in our individual welfare.
The winnowing effect of the Bread of Life experience has been felt here in California as some families and individuals have withdrawn in light of Proposition 8. It seems clear to me that the very Plan our Father authored, founded as it is in agency, precludes a neat package filled with compelling evidence. For God to bend to that wish would be to forfeit the very principles of agency and faith upon which the Plan was founded and, I might add the vehicle necessary to become as God. He is after all in the God producing business and unless we are willing to choose Him and Him alone, His ways and cede to Him how He purposes His work, we will never fit the role He envisions for us. His plan precludes Him from “making” us as He is while adopting a system of experiences designed to enable us to “become” as He is. It seems to me all those who want it done “their way” have missed the point Peter triumphantly announced, only Christ has the words of eternal life (to me that alone settles these matters) and only He determines what, how and through whom those words are given. He has established His church and has born personal witness of His church (D&C 1:30 and 115:3-4).
It takes belief to understand not reasoning (see Mosiah 26:1-5). King Benjamin’s rising generation “could not understand” because the “did not believe.” Therefore, “because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened” remaining “a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after.” Sadly for many the very leap of faith required proves an unyielding hurdle. It is not that God has to give us irrefutable proof or do things the way we think is best, it is that we have to believe, before the further light is received.
I have always been enriched by the description of King Lamoni’s conversion given in Alma. There is described how “the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul (Alma 19:6 emphasis added). Is that light not the testimony to which Peter bore witness? Are we not to look to Christ alone and whatever He determines is right for us?